Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lynne Kosky squeezes in for train feedback

PUBLIC Transport Minister Lynne Kosky is on a fact-finding mission - but in circumstances less salubrious than first class to France.

Ms Kosky is squeezing in with Melbourne's sardine train commuters, and says she wants to hear their thoughts.

Yesterday morning, she travelled with peak hour Craigieburn line passengers to Essendon and back, with one commuter telling the Herald Sun she "copped an earful".

"It was absolutely packed. A woman called out to Kosky to ask her a question - but Kosky couldn't get to her to answer it because the aisles were so jammed," he said.

The personal survey comes as the State Government considers bids from six companies vying to operate Melbourne's metro rail system. Ms Kosky travelled to France and Switzerland to look at other operators last November.

Ms Kosky said her mission might extend to buses and trams, but that the "community focus" was now on problems with trains.

Read the orig article at

Eddington critics 'bonkers': Connex chief - The Age

    Clay Lucas
    July 31, 2008 - 12:32PM

    The head of Connex says critics of Sir Rod Eddington's $7 billion proposal to build a rail line running from Footscray to Caulfield are "bonkers".

    Connex chairman Jonathan Metcalfe, brought out in March by French parent company Veolia to help secure the 15-year contract to run Melbourne's rail network, said at a business lunch yesterday his company was backing Sir Rod's plan to the hilt.

    "There is no really comprehensible alternative," he said. "The idea that Rod Eddington has been hood-winked is fundamentally flawed."

    In April, Sir Rod proposed a 17-kilometre rail tunnel running below the CBD at a depth of 50 metres. The tunnel, which would take until 2019 to build, has attracted widespread support from operators, as well as transport and green groups.

    But critics, including the Public Transport Users Association and RMIT transport planner Paul Mees, say the existing network can run substantially more trains if more efficient operational practices are put in place and more trains bought.

    Mr Metcalfe said they were wrong: "From all of my experience, the idea that the existing network can do all of this and cope is frankly bonkers."

    Dr Mees last night challenged Mr Metcalfe to explain why the existing system couldn't carry far more trains.

    "Connex puts out lots of invective but where is the analysis showing why we need this rail tunnel?" he said. "The number of trains you can run down a rail track is an engineering question that can be resolved - all that is required is people who don't have a vested interest in the outcome of the question."

    In his speech, Mr Metcalfe said Melbourne's rail network had just 26 kilometres less track than the London Underground.

    Dr Mees seized on this, saying the London Underground managed to carry more than 1 billion passengers a year compared to Melbourne's 200 million. "And their trains and platforms are smaller than ours," he said.

    Read the original article at

    New plan for Melbourne sees no future for cars

    John Masanauskas

    July 31, 2008 12:00am

    THE number of cars coming into the CBD would be slashed and the maximum speed limit set at 30km/h under a bold plan to improve Melbourne's liveability.

    The proportion of workers travelling to the city by car must fall from about a third to only 10 per cent by 2020, according to a report to the City of Melbourne.

    The Future Melbourne plan wants bikes to become the preferred mode of transport and calls for a European-style bike rental system.

    "The municipality's focus on cars has driven walking off the streets and has destroyed the charm and aesthetic value of our municipality's streetscape," the report says.

    But former premier Jeff Kennett warned the council not to alienate motorists.

    "If you want to reduce the number of work trips taken by car, how are people physically going to get there?" he said.

    "If you want to turn Melbourne into Paris or Amsterdam and make it more bicycle conducive, what are you going to do with the tram lines and everything else? No one is thinking long-term."

    The Future Melbourne plan is the product of the most ambitious consultation project undertaken by the city council.

    About 15,000 individuals, business and community groups contributed to the report, which could form the basis of council planning over the next decade.

    The targets include:

    MELBOURNE City's population to grow by more than 50 per cent to 140,000.

    ZERO net carbon emissions.

    DRINKING water use to be reduced by 40 per cent per resident and 50 per cent per worker, compared to 2000.

    20 PER CENT of new housing to be affordable, or social, accommodation.

    While the report called for a big reduction in car use, it stopped short of advocating a London-style congestion tax for the inner city.

    Lord Mayor John So said the council preferred to change the culture of travel to the city and improve public transport.

    "Public transport at the moment is one of the challenges facing Melbourne," he said.

    The report called on the State Government to reconsider a fast rail link to the airport and a very fast train service between Melbourne and Sydney to help cope with population growth.

    Reference group chair Carol Schwartz said the targets were achievable.

    "I think it's very ambitious and I think it's great to be ambitious," she said.

    Council CEO Kathy Alexander said the ideas should be taken seriously because of the vast community input.

    Read the original article at

    Victoria's Eddington plan goes to consultation

    Victorian residents and other stakeholders will be able to help shape the state’s transport plan through a series of government-led round tables in August and September.

    Premier John Brumby said the Government wanted to hear the views of as many people as possible before a comprehensive transport plan is delivered at the end of this year.

    “The 2,200 submissions received in response to Sir Rod Eddington’s East West Link Needs Assessment report showed there is a range of views in the community about Victoria’s transport priorities for the future.

    “We are now holding more localised consultation, so communities can tell the Government about their local priorities.”

    Local Government and peak groups across the various industries will be invited to attend transport round tables in areas including Geelong, Traralgon, Bendigo, Ballarat, Doncaster and Footscray.

    The round tables will be followed by a summit to be chaired by the Premier in September, which will revolve around transport and urban planning.

    “The job at hand is to listen to all available views before making the necessary decisions to build the best transport system for Victoria,” he said.

    “The transport plan we will deliver by the end of the year will help drive our economy, make our communities more liveable and our State more sustainable.”

    Invitations to round tables and public information about community summits will be made available in coming weeks.

    Read the original article at Transport & Logistics News

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    Plan for future of Melbourne as sustainable and liveable

    24-HOUR public transport, plenty of affordable housing and 30km/h speed zones are among plans for a new Melbourne outlined today.

    Rated a few years ago as the world's most liveable city, and still among the top few, Melbourne is now aiming to emerge at the top of cities spruiking their sustainability credentials, with ambitions to be in the world's top 10 within 12 years.

    A draft plan released today envisions a city that by 2020 has public transport running 24/7, low energy emissions, and a decent chunk of affordable housing.

    The Future Melbourne plan, developed over the past year with input from 15,000 people and groups, also hopes to increase the proportion of workers commuting to the CBD without cars from 72 per cent to 90 per cent.

    But the city hasn't given up entirely on its liveability ambitions, with a target to regain its number one place on the Economist Intelligence Unit's Quality of Life Ranking high up on its list of priorities.

    The Future Melbourne plan was developed by a reference group for the City of Melbourne municipality, which covers the inner city and surrounding areas including Southbank and Docklands.

    Reference group chair Carol Schwartz admitted today some of the goals were ambitious.

    "We actually believe that what we are handing over to the city is quite achievable,'' she told reporters in Melbourne today.

    "I think it's very ambitious and I think it's great to be ambitious.''

    Some of the draft plan's more ambitious targets include reducing residents' and workers' greenhouse gas emissions.

    By 2020, the plan envisages 140,000 people living in the inner city municipality, up from about 86,000 currently.

    It proposes reducing residential greenhouse gas emissions by 35 per cent per capita by 2020 from 2000 levels, and 59 per cent per worker from energy consumption levels in 2006.

    Drinking water usage is proposed to be reduced by 40 per cent per resident and 50 per cent per worker, compared to 2000 levels.

    Under the plan, chronic homelessness in the inner city would be eliminated and 20 per cent of all new housing developments would be affordable or social housing.

    When it comes to reducing traffic congestion, Lord Mayor John So said the council would work to encourage modes of transport other than cars to ferry people to the city, rather than imposing a congestion tax.

    "Public transport at the moment is one of the challenges facing Melbourne,'' he said, adding the council was working with the State Government to tackle the problem.

    With the number of peak-hour city cyclists doubling from four per cent in 2006 to eight per cent last year, the plan envisions encouraging two-wheeled transport further.

    This would include slowing down traffic to 30km/h to make streets safer for cyclists, designing dedicated lanes and offering a public bicycle rental system, akin to Paris.

    One of the 152 targets in the plan is to have a 24-hour stimulating and safe city, including round-the-clock transport.

    To achieve this the council would need to work with the State Government and service providers, Council chief executive Kathy Alexander said.

    "If you have got a 24-hour city you do need to consider the range of services, it's not just about transport,'' Dr Alexander said.

    The draft report, which cost more than $500,000 to compile, was officially handed to the council today and will be considered at a council planning meeting in September for inclusion into the next four-year strategy.

    Read the original article at

    Every 10 minutes to everywhere

    The Public Transport Users Association have a campaign called "Every 10 minutes to everywhere".

    They've done their sums and they think it's entirely possible for all of our tram, train and bus routes to run every 10 minutes, Melbourne-wide. (ie: not just the inner suburbs, but outer suburb routes as well). Can you imagine what a difference this would make to the average Melbourne resident? It would provide a viable alternative to driving a car.

    Take a look here.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    LOVE this sign/logo

    Thanks to for the picture.

    Expert casts doubt on road tunnel plan

    Gotta love the image of the EastLink, now that the tolls are operating...

    A NEW road tunnel is not the best solution for Melbourne's growing population and the Government needs to focus on public transport, a world expert in urban planning warns.

    Cassio Taniguchi, secretary for the Department of Urban Development and Environment in Brasilia, said public transport was a cheaper, less polluting investment that would ultimately move more people.

    "You must give priority to the mass transit system, to the public transportation system more than a road system, more than road networks," Mr Taniguchi said.

    Mr Taniguchi is in Melbourne to deliver a lecture on the future of cities at Melbourne University tonight. It is his second visit to Melbourne.

    Speaking to The Age, he praised Melbourne's tram network and the State Government's Melbourne 2030 plan. But he questioned the wisdom of a new tunnel, such as that recommended by engineer Sir Rod Eddington to link the eastern and western suburbs.

    Mr Taniguchi was mayor of the Brazilian city of Curitiba from 1997 to 2004.

    Curitiba's rapid transit bus system now carries 70-75% of the 3 million people who live in and around the city. With a smartcard ticket system, buses are given priority everywhere and passengers pay a standard fare.

    Mr Taniguchi said Melbourne's growth, of about 1500 people a week, reminded him of growth experienced in Curitiba in the 1960s.

    "We had to act very, very quickly to avoid the biggest problems in most developed country cities - I mean slums, poor infrastructure conditions, sanitation and so on," he said.

    Read the original article at

    Green group slams Brumby on climate

    VICTORIA'S environment has been damaged by the Brumby Government's focus on brown coal and a reliance on roads over public transport, according to a damning "report card" by one of Victoria's leading environmental groups.

    In a scathing letter to all Victorian Labor MPs, seen by The Age, Environment Victoria has condemned the poor environmental performance of Premier John Brumby in his first 12 months in office.

    The group slammed the Government's reliance on brown coal, its lack of investment in renewable energy, failure to do more to save the Murray River, and criticised it for prioritising road tunnels and upgrading freeways over a "bursting" public transport system.

    Environment Victoria chief executive Kelly O'Shanasssy said some good environmental decisions have been made but the successes were small in comparison to policies that damage the environment.

    "It gives communities little hope of the ALP's commitment to a better environment," she wrote.

    The letter also warns that Environment Victoria will use its "influence as opinion-makers" in the lead-up to the 2010 Victorian election.

    "We continue to be disappointed that the ALP Government frequently meets with irrigators and the business community but fails to see the need to engage with Victorian environmental leaders," Ms O'Shanassy wrote.

    Earlier this month, the Brumby Government signed off on a new $750 million brown coal power station in the Latrobe Valley. The project, a joint venture between Australian coal technology specialist HRL and Chinese power giant Harbin Power, has received $150 million in Government funding.

    The Government is also considering its response to the Eddington report, which recommends a road tunnel linking Melbourne's east and west and a rail tunnel connecting Caulfield and Footscray.

    A spokesman for Environment Minister Gavin Jennings said the Government recently announced $72 million funding for renewable energy projects, ended logging in the Otways, and established the Cobboboonee National Park.

    Read the original article at

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Premier John Brumby warns of dangers in growing too fast

    John Ferguson

    July 28, 2008 12:00am

    JOHN Brumby has conceded Victoria's population growth is pushing its limits, thanks to the baby boom and immigration.

    The Premier said pressures on the transport and health systems showed the need for caution.

    In his strongest comments yet on the state's booming population, he said: "I think we are probably at the limits of growth."

    In an interview marking his first year as premier, Mr Brumby told the Herald Sun that Victoria needed to keep an eye on its ageing population and plan for the future.

    And he questioned the sustainability of high growth.

    While stressing the strength of the state's multiculturalism and its value, he said immigration had doubled over five years and Victoria had attracted a quarter to a third of that intake.

    "Plus, fertility rates are high. More women are having babies - that's a good thing. I think it's a sign that people are more comfortable about the future," he said.

    "But I think we're at the limits; we've got pressures on our public transport system, we've got pressures, obviously, on our health system."


    But the growth has driven unprecedented demand for services, and roads have become more clogged.

    Mr Brumby stressed there would be no quick fix to the transport crisis.

    Tolls are still high on the agenda for big-ticket road projects.

    And Mr Brumby said it had been impossible to predict the problems facing public transport, particularly as a result of increased demand.

    "No one could have (predicted it)," Mr Brumby said, "and nor could have anyone predicted the petrol prices.

    "Four years ago, oil was $25 a barrel. It's $127 today, and was $150 last week. So you had growth in patronage of close to 13 per cent per annum for the last three years.

    "In the 1990s, under the Kennett government, patronage fell. People wouldn't use the system. The two things coming together - the explosion in our population, the biggest population boom in our state's history, and a doubling of petrol prices - has seen enormous pressure.

    "So I'm very conscious of the pressure on families, of the congestion."

    Mr Brumby said the fallout from the increased population - which was a central plank of Labor's bid to make Victoria more prosperous after being elected in 1999 - was being addressed.

    He also made it clear that roads would form a centrepiece of any transport package later this year, because of the extraordinary reliance on cars in the outer suburbs.

    There would be short-, medium- and long-term responses to the Eddington report on easing east-west congestion in Melbourne and to broader transport issues.

    Of big projects such as road or rail tunnels, he said: "You can still look at a number of years before you actually get a shovel in the ground."


    Read the entire article at

    Cross-city rail tunnel likely

    Paul Austin
    July 28, 2008

    PREMIER John Brumby has given his strongest indication yet that the Government will build a multibillion-dollar rail tunnel to tackle Melbourne's public transport congestion crisis.

    Mr Brumby told The Age several train lines were already at full capacity, and the rail tunnel from Sunshine to Caulfield proposed by transport adviser Sir Rod Eddington was "obviously about increasing capacity".

    Asked if he was attracted to Sir Rod's call for "a generational leap forward in Melbourne's rail capacity" and the creation of a Paris-style "metro" underground rail network, Mr Brumby said: "I am categorically in the business of making the right decisions now to secure the long-term future of the state."

    In an interview to mark his first year as Premier, Mr Brumby also:

    ■ Flagged an end to water restrictions in Melbourne once the Government's contentious water projects, including the north-south pipeline and the Wonthaggi desalination plant, were finished.

    ■ Said he would work with his long-time political rival Jeff Kennett in the best interests of Melbourne if the former Liberal premier was elected Lord Mayor in November.

    The Age believes senior figures in the Department of Transport are pushing hard for a rail tunnel, arguing it could be affordable using a mix of state and Federal Government money. Some Labor Party strategists believe a commitment to a rail tunnel would help Mr Brumby to go to the 2010 election portraying himself as a man of the future with a low-carbon-emissions plan to cater for the transport needs of Melbourne's rapidly growing population.

    Mr Brumby emphasised that the Government had made no decisions on Sir Rod's proposal for a $7.5 billion rail tunnel linking the booming western and south-eastern suburbs via the CBD and St Kilda Road, and stressed he would soon unveil measures designed to reduce congestion in the short and medium terms.

    "But a big tunnel is really about building capacity for the long-term future, and, of course, I want to be in a position where in 10, 20 and 30 years time we've got the capacity for an expanded and further improved public transport system," the Premier said.

    His comments will be welcomed by public transport advocates who fear the Government might endorse Sir Rod's other main recommendation — a $9 billion road tunnel linking the Eastern Freeway to CityLink — but reject a rail tunnel as too expensive.

    In his blueprint released in April, Sir Rod recommended the Government double the capacity of the rail network in Melbourne's fastest-growing areas by building a 17-kilometre tunnel from Sunshine to Caulfield.

    "The new tunnel would provide capacity for at least an extra 40,000 commuters every hour and take a major step towards creating Melbourne's first 'metro' style passenger line (a common feature of successful overseas rail networks)," Sir Rod wrote.

    Mr Brumby said he would make an "Eddington-plus" statement on Melbourne's transport system in November.

    On the water shortage, Mr Brumby said he was confident there would be no need for restrictions in Melbourne once the Government's water projects, including Australia's biggest desalination plant, were finished and operating — by about 2012.

    Mr Brumby described John So as "a very good Lord Mayor", and said the partnership between the State Government and the City of Melbourne was working well.

    But he said he could work with Mr Kennett if he contested and won the November election.

    Mr Kennett, who is chairman of the Hawthorn Football Club, is expected to make a decision in September or early October.

    ■ At a rally of about 200 people in drizzling rain in Fitzroy yesterday, Local Government Minister Richard Wynne, whose Richmond seat covers one end of what would be a new $9 billion road tunnel, has urged anti-tunnel protesters to push for public transport solutions.

    Mr Wynne gave a carefully worded three-minute address, referring protesters to his submission to the report by Sir Rod, which recommends the tunnel.

    "From a social justice point of view, this is a unique opportunity to use Eddington to get outcomes more broadly in terms of public transport. We should not miss that opportunity," Mr Wynne told the crowd.


    Read the original article at

    Sunday, July 27, 2008

    It's Jeff all over again

    The first few letters to the editor here respond to the 'Brumby Superhero' article of last week.

    Click here to read them in The Age.

    A sample :

    Melissa Fyfe's profile of John Brumby could be boiled down to one sentence: "John Brumby is a grimmer, more humourless version of Jeff Kennett."

    Melissa Fyfe's profile of John Brumby ("It's Action Man to the rescue?" 20/7) could be boiled down to one sentence: "John Brumby is a grimmer, more humourless version of Jeff Kennett." Brumby has the same disdain for due process that Kennett had, using the "commercial-in-confidence" tag to hide questionable deals with the big end of town.

    Brumby has the same blind faith in privatisation that has led to massive degradation of the public transport system. Like Kennett's environmental record, Brumby's is poor (as evidenced by the hugely expensive and debatable desalination plant and the north-south water pipeline). And Brumby possibly out-Kennetts Kennett in the nastiness of his political campaigning, as shown by the blatant lies told recently in Kororoit.

    It is appropriate to conclude that nowhere is Brumby more disliked than by the people closest to him - the ALP rank and file in Brumby's own seat of Broadmeadows.

    MIKE PULESTON, Brunswick

    Your editorial (20/7) accurately describes the state Victoria is experiencing with Premier Brumby at the helm. It's difficult to assess who profits from the $850 million myki ticketing debacle, or the bay dredging, the desalination plant, the extensive freeway construction, the PPP development projects (such as the St Kilda Triangle) and so on - certainly not us, the electorate. I think that the "man of steel" reference is prophetic. If Mr Brumby wants to avoid a political demise like the previous "man of steel", John Howard, it is not too late for him to preside over a more transparent government and listen carefully to the rising murmur of discontent from his constituents.

    ALEX NJOO, St Kilda

    Melissa Fyfe refers to John Brumby as "Action Man, can-do leader, superhero" etc (20/7). Like many Victorians, my perception of the man is of bumbling buffoon, environmental assassin or whatever complements Tory Ted's "Inaction Man". Fyfe's piece fails to thoroughly examine the Colt's credentials and, when put under the microscope, they come up short in a big way.

    As the downturn in the state's main economic drivers, manufacturing and agriculture, declines, so does the economic outlook for Victoria. Brumby's reaction to that is to bet our money on fool's gold - projects that will be of no lasting value to the state or the country. I refer, of course, to the desalination plant, the north-south pipeline and Rod Eddington's transport plan. And, of course, now the Colt wants to build another coal-fired power generator.

    Under the Premier's definition (as an opposer of the north-south pipeline), I am a liar. Leaders lead, they make the hard decisions. When they make these decisions, however, they consult with those whom the decisions affect, they show compassion and understanding. Leaders are not given to fits of petulance, they don't bully people, they don't name-call people who may disagree with them and they don't demean those people by undermining their civil liberties.

    JOHN BENTLEY, Tongala

    Saturday, July 26, 2008

    Threat of tunnel already affecting Real Estate Prices?

    There's an article in today's The Age, stating that petrol prices and 'the commute' are already causing a dip in prices of houses more than 20km from the city.

    However, this article also has a table of suburbs, with median prices and the quarterly change.

    Take a look at some local suburbs, and look at the changes in the last quarter. The three suburbs most affected by a car tunnel, Footscray and especially Ascot Vale and Kensington, have taken a dive, where similar suburbs alongside have gone up. The truck action plan may also have had a detrimental impact upon Yarraville. This goes against the trend, where houses within walking distance of the city increased by an average of 1.9%
    • Ascot Vale - Down 7.2%
    • Flemington - Up 1.4%
    • Footscray - Down 2.8%
    • Footscray West - Up 1.6%
    • Kensington - Down 7.0%
    • Maribyrnong - Up 0.6%
    • North Melbourne - n/a
    It makes you wonder... it sure has Becton worried. (Read their EWLNA submission here).

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    Your favourite park

    Requires to view (something free from Microsoft - only works on Windows).

    Eddington: visionary and plodder

    Another extremely well-written article, worth the read.

    NOW that submissions to the Eddington report into east-west travel needs have closed, the Brumby Government must decide its response.

    Eddington proposes billions of dollars of investment in what is trumpeted as an integrated package of major transport infrastructure projects - take away one component, and the plan collapses.

    A careful reading of the report reveals that that is not the case: the proposal is actually an amalgam of two quite different approaches to transport planning. One is little more than "business as usual" road planning; the other a visionary solution to Melbourne's public transport crisis. The Government can choose one or the other, but not both.

    The rationale of the study is first to resolve current big problems with the transport network; then to move beyond the traditional "predict and provide" method to explore new connections needed to make the city more sustainable. The "city shaping" power of new, large-scale projects is emphasised.

    However, the report reverts to more traditional transport analysis techniques after this initial flourish. A whole chapter is devoted to advancing the argument that there is latent demand for a new east-west route crossing the Maribyrnong River. Latent, because the counts at the Eastern Freeway exit fail to justify such a link. Evidence of need has been inferred from screen counts as far afield as Brunswick and the CBD.

    This "predict" analysis takes little or no account of the impact of anticipated federal climate change initiatives that will arise from the Garnaut process. Nor does it give weight to current state policies aimed at improving the sustainability of the metro-urban form, such as Melbourne 2030.

    There is no choice, say the road planners: latent demand requires building more road capacity. This is "predict and provide" in all but name.

    How, then, is public transport need assessed in the report?

    The public transport authors seem to have a completely different perspective to their road engineer colleagues. Their chapter states: "… making forecasts and then shaping the system to meet them is self-fulfilling. If no system capacity or operational changes are made, patronage will inevitably plateau at capacity; making more system enhancements and improving the service will attract more people."

    In other words, "predict and provide" attracts more patronage. Providing additional capacity costs a lot of money. So, choices need to be made about how much capacity to invest in.

    In the public transport world, the "predict" part of the equation seems to be harder to argue for than it is for the road planners. The predictive model the Eddington team used, combining historical data with the latest demographic forecasts, produced a predicted growth in public transport equivalent to 2.1% a year, far lower than recent trends. In what seems like a circular argument, this low rate of growth is explained by the absence of major new infrastructure to increase rail capacity.

    Fortunately the Government's public transport division stepped in and proposed that a more realistic and up-to-date growth rate (6.6% a year) be adopted. This becomes the basis for the rail tunnel and related proposals.

    The most pressing rail capacity need, according to the public transport planners, is in the northern group of lines, largely as a result of rapid growth in the west, north-west and northern suburbs. On the basis of recent trends, peak patronage on these lines will more than double by 2021 to 45,000.

    The same planners drop hints that they are working on a long-term vision for Melbourne's rail network that will transform it into a modern metro system. At present, lines radiate outwards from the CBD like branches of a tree, through capacity-constraining junctions like North Melbourne. The emerging vision seems to involve each line becoming a self-contained, end-to-end route diving under the CBD, with a simplified, much more frequent level of service - rather like the London Tube or Paris Metro. The East-West rail tunnel would be a bold first step along that path.

    Add to this the inventive proposal to re-route V/Line trains from Geelong to join the Ballarat line near Rockbank, which in turn joins the Bendigo line at Sunshine. All three V/Line services would then feed into widened tracks at Sunshine-Footscray. This would remove further chronic capacity constraints in the metropolitan train system, and speed up the country services.

    These imaginative proposals make sense as a first stage in a radical plan to improve the whole of Melbourne's rail infrastructure. The irony is that they are first seeing the light of day in a road study that focuses on east-west movement in inner Melbourne. Indeed, this limited brief is a fundamental flaw in the Eddington report; and no fault of its author, who has been at pains to point it out.

    In effect, what has been delivered is a road plan aimed at resolving a specific network issue in inner Melbourne, into which has been inserted the beginnings of a visionary plan

    to transform the capacity of the entire metropolitan rail system. The tunnel solution (one for road, one for rail) is the common denominator. In most other respects, the report's road and public transport analyses are poles apart.

    So, how should east-west travel needs be approached in Melbourne?

    The crux of a solution appears 100 pages into the report. After an admission that it is not possible or realistic to eliminate road congestion altogether comes the statement: "Some form of congestion-targeted road charging is inevitable in Melbourne, although this may be a decade or more away." The question is not if, but when, congestion charging should be introduced. "Melbourne needs to be much better prepared to take this step when required," says the report.

    This surely is the challenge that a credible road plan for Melbourne must tackle, yet the Eddington report completely fails to engage it.

    How would such a charge affect peak hour travel habits? Will people gradually move to live closer to their workplaces? How many will transfer to public transport? What about walking and cycling? Especially, how would such a charge affect the traffic projections for the east-west road tunnel, a hugely expensive undertaking that has a negative cost-benefit ratio even without taking congestion charges and climate change policies into account?

    The answer is: we don't know; the Eddington report does not even ask these questions. This is a scandalously inadequate basis on which to be considering the outlay of $10 billion for a road tunnel.

    The east-west road study in many ways perpetuates the incremental approach to road building that has bedevilled Melbourne for 40 years.

    Eddington's rail proposals, by contrast, provide for the first time the beginnings of a credible transport response to climate change and sustainable city form across Melbourne. Of course we need to add greatly improved bus services, and we need a big shift towards bikes and walking for short trips. A program of suburban rail extensions is another urgent priority.

    The Federal Government seems to be taking climate change seriously and has said it will reinstate funding for urban public transport. The State Government says it will release a new transport plan later this year.

    In its response to the Eddington report the State Government should seize the moment to initiate a new approach to transport planning in Melbourne. It should mark the end of incremental, demand-led road planning predicated on "business as usual" travel patterns. It should instead signal the beginning of an era in which transport investments are justified with reference to the sustainability and liveability of this city and the people who live and work in it.

    Mike Scott is a director of Melbourne planning consultancy Planisphere. Last year one of his projects won the main Planning Institute of Australia award. He is a former director of city strategy at the City of Melbourne.

    Read the original article at

    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    They've come and had a gander

    I learned first-hand from a very reliable source that J.J. Holland Park had a couple of non-regular visitors today.

    A few non-regular cars were seen in the carparks near the Childcare Centre/Soccer oval. And lo and behold, the Hon. John Brumby, MP and the Hon. Bronwyn Pike, MP were seen wandering around the park.

    I wonder what they were discussing.

    I wonder what they were thinking about.

    I hope they are worried....

    (we are, and we'll vote accordingly!)

    Have bike, will travel ... on a bus

    BUREAUCRATS want bike racks on buses to ease a lack of public transport in the suburbs, a leaked cabinet submission shows.

    The submission, from the Department of Transport to a subcommittee led by Premier John Brumby, outlines a plan to put bicycle racks on the front of the Government's showcase SmartBuses.

    The $660 million SmartBus program provides an "orbital" bus service to the city's outer suburbs, which are poorly served by rail and trams. The submission says commuters who use these buses would benefit from the racks, each holding about three bikes.

    But the Opposition said yesterday the Government should be building new rail lines to the outer suburbs, not offering bike racks.

    "There are 35,000 residents in Rowville, 45,000 in Doncaster and 12,000 and growing in South Morang who want heavy rail lines that can carry up to 20,000 passengers an hour," transport spokesman Terry Mulder said.

    "Bike racks on buses are no substitute."

    Religious leaders from the Baptist, Anglican, Uniting and Catholic churches, and the Hillview Community Church and Rowville Salvation Army have all written to Transport Minister Lynne Kosky begging for a railway line to Rowville. The line they want built was first promised in a 1969 transport plan.

    Governments since have promised to evaluate a rail link, from Huntingdale station to Rowville.

    "We've been waiting too long for this train," Rowville Baptist Church Pastor David Devine said.

    In the 1999 election campaign, Labor promised a feasibility study into building a train line to Rowville.

    Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu this week reiterated his party's support for rail lines to South Morang and Cranbourne East, and a light rail line to Doncaster. But he stumbled when quizzed on how much these projects would cost.

    Ms Kosky said it was ironic that the Opposition was calling for new train lines.

    "We remember that it was them who closed so many," her spokesman, Stephen Moynihan, said.

    "This Government has taken action to ensure every Melburnian has access to train, tram and bus services."

    The cabinet submission has been made to a special transport subcommittee that includes Ms Kosky, Roads Minister Tim Pallas, Treasurer John Lenders and Planning Minister Justin Madden. It is working on a Melbourne-wide transport plan, to be released in November.

    It will be the third "long-term", multibillion-dollar transport strategy produced by the Government since 2004.

    Read the original article at

    Putting bike racks on every bus is a great idea, in my humble opinion. Of course... I don't see it as an either/or deal... more a both/and. Yes, build the new railway lines, but please put bike racks on the busses as well!

    Mayor race: Eddie McGuire says no, but Jeff Kennet might say yes

    EDDIE McGuire has turned down an approach to run for lord mayor but Jeff Kennett is considering a tilt at the job.

    "I think the city is ready for a change," the former premier said last night.

    The speculation has raised doubts about Lord Mayor John So's chances of a third term.

    Mr McGuire was asked to run Melbourne by powerful interests concerned the city is losing its way under Cr So.

    The Collingwood boss and TV star met Cr So in private last week.

    It is believed Cr So has previously flirted with backing Mr McGuire for the job.

    Mr McGuire told the Herald Sun he was too busy to be lord mayor.

    But Mr Kennett said he was considering running in the November 29 poll.

    Mr Kennett said he would not decide until the "death knell" but he had been approached by a "range of interests".

    "In any job these days at the top, I think things change very quickly and you need to keep - in the interests of the community you serve - introducing fresh blood," he said.

    Mr Kennett recently announced he would step down as chairman of the national depression initiative beyondblue in 2010.

    The Hawthorn football club chairman said he would look to join another cause after he left.

    Cr So refused to comment last night.

    He is believed to be planning a trip to Beijing and is tipped to reveal his plans on his return.

    Cr Fiona Snedden yesterday urged Mr Kennett to run for lord mayor.

    "I reckon Jeff would be a great mayor. He would show great leadership and vision," Cr Snedden said.

    Coalition of Residents and Business Associations spokesman Kevin Chamberlin said Cr So should go.

    "The Melbourne City Council has never been in such disarray at both a political and administrative level," he said.

    "We believe it's time for John and the council members to all move on."

    Two other councillors, Peter Clarke and Gary Singer, are also considering running.

    Cr So's meeting with Mr McGuire added to speculation that he would stand down rather than risk defeat.

    But he kept his options open, conducting a ring-around recently to determine whether the ALP would back a candidate in the poll.

    The Herald Sun believes the ALP is unlikely to back a candidate for mayor.

    Under electoral laws, candidates must be nominated at least 32 days before polling day, which would give Mr Kennett until late October to nominate.

    The lord mayor is elected directly by ratepayers.

    Cr So is a two-time lord mayor whose infectious laugh and broken English made him a popular figure.

    But his second term has been marked by discontent among ratepayer groups.

    One observer said Cr So had been showing signs of stress as the gloss has been stripped from his public image.

    Read the original article at

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    Public transport favoured over roads for federal funding

    This article mentions that
    Victorian MPs, including Education Minister Bronwyn Pike and member for Richmond Richard Wynne, have been outspoken in their opposition to a road tunnel.
    On the contrary, we have noticed that Brownyn Pike has been very, very careful not to oppose the tunnel, instead to oppose lasting impact on the park(s) and that Richard Wynne's EWNLA submission supported a tunnel from the docks to Sunshine. The journalist Geraldine Mitchell said the article was changed by the subeditors and that Bronwyn has not in fact changed her position. The journalist acknowledged that Bronwyn was at pains not to take a position on her 20 minute doorstop.

    Oh well, on with the article...

    PUBLIC transport looks set to win federal funding ahead of any road projects.

    Premier John Brumby yesterday said talks with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd showed promising signs the Victorian Government would get assistance for public transport projects.

    "I've discussed this with the Prime Minister and I would be very confident that some of the $20 billion in the Building Australia fund will come Victoria's way for public transport projects," he said.

    But it appears less likely that contentious road projects such as the $9 billion road tunnel to link the Eastern and Tullamarine freeways, proposed by international road expert Sir Rod Eddington, will get any federal funding.

    It comes after Mr Brumby this month said he hoped to get at least $5 billion of the Building Australia fund for major transport projects.

    He said any funding from the Federal Government would make a "huge difference" to what projects would be given the green light.

    The biggest public transport project on the agenda is an $8.5 billion rail tunnel between Caulfield and Footscray, also proposed by Sir Rod.

    Victorian MPs, including Education Minister Bronwyn Pike and member for Richmond Richard Wynne,have been outspoken in their opposition to a road tunnel.

    COMMUTERS can look forward to shiny new seat covers on more than half the Connex fleet seats from today.

    But the chances of getting a seat on the sardine services aren't going to improve until November, when 200 extra services a week will be scheduled.

    Connex chief Bruce Hughes said the seat upgrades were a multi-million-dollar facelift after commuters were asked to suggest service improvements.

    But Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen said most peak hour commuters wouldn't see the new covers, "because other people will be sitting on them".

    Read the original article at

    Everyone else get one of these?

    Dear Cory

    Thank you for your interest in Sir Rod Eddington’s East West
    Links Needs Assessment Report.
    Your comments will be taken into consideration as part of the
    Government’s review of the report. The Government has indicated
    that it will release a response by the end of this year
    about the way forward.

    Thank you,
    The East West Your Say Team
    Department of Transport

    Bronwyn Pike's submission

    Now that all of the submissions are publicly viewable, many have drawn our attention to our local minister, the Hon Bronwyn Pike MP's submission.

    General consensus seems to be it's a bit of an each-way bet.

    Some edited highlights.

    As a local resident as well as a parliamentary representative, I am
    very aware that open space is limited and therefore treasured by
    inner city residents and its preservation must be a clear focus of
    any future works.

    Travancore Park, Debneys Park, Princes Park, Royal Park and JJ
    Holland Park all provide a range of sporting, recreation and
    community facilities which are shared by the thousands of local
    residents with the many visitors who are attracted to come to them.
    Should a tunnel go ahead it must not reduce the size or amenity of
    these vital public spaces.

    While some disturbance may be unavoidable during the construction
    phase of any tunnel, the community must be provided with
    alternative facilities for the activities undertaken in these Parks.
    Any damage to the parks must be remediated following
    construction, and it would be logical to use the opportunity to
    revitalise and renew the community facilities within them at the
    same time, with local communities playing a key role in shaping the activity centres for the future.

    Take a look for yourself here (pdf)
    and draw your own conclusions. I'm not impressed, and I'm going to tell her so.
    You might want to do the same yourself :

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    Yarra Community Against the Tunnel's first rally/family day

    The details are:

    • 1pm, Sunday July 27 at
    • Smiths Reserve, Fitzroy, next to Fitzroy Pool,
    • Melways Map 2C 5C.
    • BBQ and entertainment.
    • MC's: Corinne Grant and Rod Quantock

    Speakers include Yarra resident Freda Watkin, Yarra Mayor Cr Judy Morton, Paul Mees, Richard Wynne MP and Cr Stephen Jolly. YCAT is a community coalition of individuals & local groups concerned about the impact upon Collingwood, Clifton Hill, Fitzroy and Carlton of the proposed tunnel linking the Eastern Freeway to Melbourne’s west. If you want to be involved with the campaign come along! Everyone can play a part no matter how big or small!

    More at:

    City rejects cross-city tunnel

    MARIBYRNONG Council says it cannot support the cross-city road tunnel proposed by Sir Rod Eddington because his report is too light on detail.

    The council has instead supported the general concept of a road linking Melbourne's west and east, but some councillors say the road should not be built as climate change looms and oil prices climb.

    Of 34 submissions sent to the council during public comment, 27 opposed the tunnel and only two supported it.

    The council voted 4-3 to send a submission to the State Government that "acknowledges the need" for an east-west road through central Melbourne. The motion, supported by councillors Michelle MacDonald, Michael Clarke, Sel Sanli and Janis Rossiter, said the council "cannot support" Sir Rod's tunnel option "given the lack of information" about sites and public impact.

    Councillors Janet Rice, Catherine Cumming and Dina Lynch instead recommended a rethink on a cross-city road because of climate change, oil prices and costs.

    Cr Rice said increased public transport use, including for freight, would make the road unnecessary.

    "No matter what route is chosen it will be big, noisy, expensive, polluting and have massive impacts on people and their homes."

    Cr Clarke said a tunnel was needed or congestion in local streets would worsen.

    "Those people that say the tunnel is not necessary are foisting a life of misery on to those communities," he said.

    The submission partly backs Sir Rod's truck action plan, but opposes widening Ballarat Rd from Geelong Rd to Ashley St, saying that would clog roads in Footscray, Braybrook and Maidstone.

    It also opposes a freight route extension north of Sunshine Rd along Paramount Rd and Ashley St in West Footscray, and a new road connecting Footscray and Dynon roads with Ballarat Rd.

    All councillors supported Sir Rod's public transport proposals, including new rail lines linking Footscray to Caulfield and Werribee to Sunshine.

    Read the original artcile in the

    Brumby's million-dollar promotion

    A MILLION dollars of taxpayer money that could be spent boosting Melbourne's struggling transport network will instead be spent spruiking the Government's credentials on transport in a new television campaign.

    The four-week television blitz started on Sunday night with the entire media campaign to last up to a year.

    The ad, which says the Government is "delivering on our plans to meet the state's growing transport needs and with many initiatives now under way the signs of an improving transport system can now be seen", has been attacked by the Opposition as a waste of valuable transport dollars.

    "Motorists and public transport users alike who are paying more, getting less and travelling more slowly under John Brumby will not be deceived by this expensive, meaningless drivel," Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said.

    "Minister for Public Transport Lynne Kosky had to stop her expensive myki smartcard TV ads from going to air because myki is at least three years late," he said.

    The Age reported in June that a $400,000 taxpayer-funded advertisement campaign for the troubled myki smartcard had been sitting on the shelf for almost a year because of delays introducing the new technology.

    Mr Mulder said the advertising money should be spent "on further car parking spaces at a railway station in Melbourne's outer suburbs - not on self-promotion".

    Department of Transport spokesman Chris Veraa said the new advertising campaign was to "inform the public of transport projects currently under way".

    He said that while the "full budget for the campaign has not yet been determined", public information about transport projects "will be distributed as required, based on the timing and schedule of works".

    "Based on current projections, about $1 million could be spent on this campaign over the next 12 months," Mr Veraa said.

    A spokesman for the State Government said it was important for it "to communicate to the people of Victoria about the infrastructure projects currently under way to meet the growing demands of our transport network"...

    Read the rest of the article at

    Eddington tunnel 'fails' on emissions

    SIR Rod Eddington's plan to build a road tunnel from Footscray to Clifton Hill will only make transport emissions worse, a Government-appointed watchdog has found.

    And in a report released today, Victoria's sustainability commissioner, Ian McPhail, warns that Melbourne's car dependence could mean serious social breakdown if oil prices continue to rise.

    Emissions from transport have shot up in Victoria since 2003, while emissions from other areas have dropped. Transport is responsible for 17% of Victoria's greenhouse emissions.

    And, in a frank assessment of Sir Rod's Investing in Transport study — which proposes $20 billion worth of transport projects, including the $9 billion road tunnel — Dr McPhail said Sir Rod was either "unable or unwilling" to consider a shift towards public transport.

    Sir Rod, in his recommendations for Melbourne, found the number of car trips would not decline "in the decades ahead".

    But Dr McPhail said this view could prove ill-founded, particularly with the CSIRO predicting petrol would rise as high as $8 a litre within a decade.

    "It is disappointing that Eddington's view is of a future that is fundamentally business as usual," Dr McPhail said.

    His report called for new suburban train lines, extension of tram lines, and more bus services.

    It also found the Government should investigate "regenerative braking" on trams and trains, which reuses some of the energy used to brake as power, as happens with hybrid cars.

    A third of Melbourne's trains have the potential to redirect energy from braking back into the overhead cabling.

    Dr McPhail also called on the Government to run trains and trams off green power, a switch that would add between $15 million and $20 million a year to the current $40 million cost of powering them.

    Read the original article at

    Future of the City


    Future Of The City OB With The Architects

    Tuesday 22nd July @ Beer Deluxe at Fed Square, Melbourne

    Triple R's The Architects present The Future Of The City, a live broadcast discussion forum looking at the opportunities and challenges facing Melbourne.

    Stuart Harrison and Simon Knott will explore how we can act on the pressing issues of urban density, sustainability, housing affordability and public transport in order to shape the future of Melbourne.

    Featuring an expert panel including Associate State Government Architect, Shelley Penn, and Director of RMIT's Globalism Institute, Paul James.

    The Future Of The City – a Triple R live broadcast with The Architects for the State of Design Festival. Tuesday the 22nd of July @ 7.00pm outside Beer Deluxe in the atrium at Federation Square.

    This broadcast is proudly sponsored by Electrolight – - lighting designers who are passionate about light and lighting

    For more information on the State Of Design Festival, visit

    Melburnians want a better rail system

    It is essential and possible to meet growing transport needs.

    THE Federal Government has given the travelling public and State Government infrastructure planners just five years to

    adapt before a carbon price for transport kicks in fully. So infrastructure decisions to mitigate climate change must be made now.

    Of the two main infrastructure proposals from the Eddington report, the road tunnel does not support the aims of the carbon pollution reduction scheme green paper. The rail tunnel does. The road tunnel, in its outdated obsession with a "missing link" between motorways, will increase greenhouse emissions and add to traffic congestion in inner Melbourne. The rail tunnel, provided that it is contained within a transport plan for the whole of metropolitan Melbourne, including the outer suburbs, will lead to a reduction of emissions and congestion.

    There are major benefits from the Eddington proposals for public transport:

    ■ They will provide an immediate strategic boost to the capacity of the train system.

    ■ They are targeted at the parts of the system where urban growth is driving patronage most heavily.

    ■ The new "metro" style rail tunnel proposal will bring efficient transport to important destinations in inner Melbourne, while speeding access from outer suburban growth areas.

    The Government asserts that sufficient additional train services to meet the growth of demand cannot be provided unless new infrastructure is built. We have not yet seen the detailed reasoning behind this claim, and to conceal it is harming the case for the tunnel. Nevertheless, just as VicRoads added road space year after year in the period of a shift towards the car, now more rail paths must be added as people increasingly use public transport. A recent survey showed 27% of Melburnians were choosing to use their cars less. By contrast, over the past three years, train use in Melbourne has boomed, growing over 8% a year and above 12% in critical corridors such as Watergardens. Tram use has grown too.

    The Eddington rail tunnel is correctly placed to provide additional paths for the very crowded services from rapidly growing areas such as Altona, Werribee, Tarneit, Melton, Caroline Springs and Roxburgh Park. The extra capacity will also mean that the booming V/Line regional fast rail services will not need to be caught behind stopping trains.

    The full benefit of the successful regional rail improvements will be received when the 160 km/h regional trains can continue into central Melbourne at high speed.

    Where does this leave the urgently needed outer-suburban connections — serving areas beyond Cranbourne, Rowville, Doncaster and Mernda, as well as the needed electrification of the Sunbury and Melton lines? In a nutshell, expansion of the core capacity is prerequisite. When the Rowville feasibility study was undertaken several years ago by a team led by one of the authors, there was capacity on the Dandenong line to add the extra trains. This capacity is rapidly disappearing, but the addition of space for 25 trains an hour via the Eddington tunnel will mean that Rowville can be built.

    To provide a suburban level of service to Sunbury and Melton will also mean extra capacity, as will any alleviation of the existing overcrowding on the Watergardens line. Again, the Eddington proposals will meet this need. For the moment, Doncaster is being provided with Doncaster Area Rapid Transit, a smartened up bus system. Though a second-best alternative to rail, it provides some improvement for Doncaster residents. Because Doncaster does not have a massive suburban growth area beyond it, a Doncaster rail link doesn't have the same urgency as the areas where Eddington proposes the initial investment should be made. Finally, there is the Mernda extension (and the related extension of the No. 86 tram to Doreen). These should be in final planning now, since once the new bridge at Clifton Hill is completed there is no technical obstacle to extending adequate public transport to this critical growth corridor.

    How should these proposals be financed? This is the place for a public-public-public partnership. In other words, while the State Government, as the owner of the system, should be central and bear the largest financial burden, both the Commonwealth and local government have roles to play. We suggest that the Federal Government contribute $4 billion from the Building Australia Fund, with the remaining $4 billion to be provided by the State Government. We think that local government should design and finance (or manage private developers to finance) new stations and their surrounds. While slightly reducing the burden on state finance (at the rate of about $25 million a time), we think local government is best placed to integrate stations into surrounding urban design, making them safe, accessible and lively places. In the case of the new station proposed for Parkville, the university could use the project as a showcase for its architectural and planning expertise.

    The community is saying very clearly that it wants the option of car-free access to jobs, education and leisure. An efficient rail system is the path to this goal, and the Eddington rail proposals the best entry we are likely to get soon. Let's support them.

    Professors Nick Low and Bill Russell are the directors of the Australasian Centre for the Governance and Management of Urban Transport at the University of Melbourne. Russell wrote the report recommending the construction of rail services to Doncaster in 1991, and headed the feasibility team for the Rowville railway in 2004.

    Read the original article in

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Channel Seven News

    Item from 15/7 (thanks to

    Highpoint lobbies for new train line to Maribyrnong

    Another suggestion for an extension of an existing line, instead of digging another tunnel...

    HIGHPOINT Shopping Centre wants a new train line to Maribyrnong.

    The retail mecca has outlined the plan in its response to Sir Rod Eddington's transport report.

    Starting from the existing Flemington Racecourse line, it would extend past the shopping centre to former Defence Department land in Maribyrnong.

    Highpoint has called for better public transport access to its shops.

    "Highpoint lacks significant transport infrastructure on the scale enjoyed by other comparable centres,'' the submission said.

    In addition to developing Highpoint as a town centre, the nearby former defence site could house up to 10,000 people, it said.

    The Edgewater estate could house a further 2500 residents and the area included Maribyrnong Secondary College and Victoria University.

    Highpoint suggested the new rail line be built to serve all these precincts.

    In its submission, GPT Property Management project director Peter Thomas said numerous rail routes had already been examined as part of the abandoned airport rail link project.

    "It would appear timely to consider this particular extension in the context of the broader metropolitan planning work under way,'' Mr Thomas said.

    Monash University has also backed new rail lines, urging the proposed underground link from Footscray to Caulfield be extended.

    In a response to the Eddington report, university vice- president Peter Marshall called for the line to be extended to Monash's Clayton campus and beyond to Rowville.

    "The extension of the tunnel and rail services would address transport needs for the area as a whole,'' Mr Marshall said.

    Existing public transport access to Monash, which includes an overcrowded bus connection from Huntingdale station, was a disincentive to switching from cars, he said.

    The State Government is now considering the 2042 public responses to the Eddington report on Melbourne's east-west transport needs.

    Key recommendations were a rail tunnel from Footscray to Caulfield and a road tunnel linking the Eastern Freeway to the western suburbs

    Read the original article at

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    It's Action Man to the rescue?

    I can't leap tall buildings in a single bound, but look how good I am at opening freeways!

    It was commissioned long before John Brumby came to power, but the new EastLink tollway could be a mascot for his Government. It was far-reaching in its economic benefits, delivered with the private sector, finished five months before deadline and on budget. On Brumby's watch, dredging of the bay's shipping channels finally began. He drew a line under years of delay and environmental checking and backed the $1 billion project, holding his nerve against critics and protesters. Other decisive moves include speeding up the rezoning of land to cope with Melbourne's booming population, a forthcoming rewrite of the city's transport plan, free public transport for early morning commuters and a boosted train timetable.

    Me, Action Man. You, thirsty voter.

    It was Premier Steve Bracks who announced the $4.9 billion water plan, but the key supporter was Brumby. The two main projects - a $3.1 billion desalination plant and the $750 million north-south pipeline - will form his legacy as Premier. It's certainly an action-man response to the water crisis. It was sealed in a flash, probably too quickly for the Auditor-General, who said it lacked rigour, based on big engineering solutions instead of a more complex approach that could have included the widespread use of rain tanks, stormwater harvesting and recycled drinking water. With Water Minister sidekick Tim Holding, Brumby must now sell the projects, which are opposed by two loud protest movements. The dynamic duo are keeping their eyes on the prize: an extra 225 billion litres of water flowing into dwindling storages by 2011 and nullifying water scarcity as a 2010 election issue.

    Read the rest of this article at

    Friday, July 18, 2008

    All 2042 submissions have been posted online

    Any which were sent in have been scanned, and you can search alphabetically

    Yes... see how woeful mine ended up being. Too much campaigning and not enough writing, and a badly timed virus maketh a bad submission. Oh well, you can follow most of what I was trying to say.

    Minister's seat at risk over road tunnel plan

    Bronwyn Pike's email is Email her and let her know what you think, and which way you'll be voting.

    STATE cabinet ministers have reported a backlash in their electorates over plans for a $9 billion road tunnel running from Footscray to Clifton Hill.

    But in a move that could put Education Minister Bronwyn Pike's political future at risk, she has not opposed the 18-kilometre tunnel - which would run through the heart of her electorate.

    "I am not making a firm commitment on any aspect of Sir Rod Eddington's report," Ms Pike said yesterday.

    In her submission in response to Sir Rod's $20 billion transport plan for Melbourne, Ms Pike said many in her electorate were telling her "loud and clear that they are very concerned" about the potential impacts of the tunnel.

    Ms Pike, who held her seat of Melbourne against the Greens by just 600 votes at the 2006 State election, did not oppose the plan in her submission. But she said she would fight to ensure no parkland or amenity was lost if it was built.

    The road would begin in either Altona or Sunshine and continue to CityLink, and Kensington's J. J. Holland Park would be partially consumed by exit and entry "portals" for the tunnel. Out of 2000 submissions, several hundred were from Kensington residents opposing the tunnel.

    Greens state MP Greg Barber, whose party is opposed to the building of any road tunnel, said Ms Pike had tried to obscure her position on the subject. "The state seat of Melbourne is ground zero for this disaster," he said. "How does the member for the seat most affected think she can get away with sitting on the fence?"

    The Government is working on a major transport plan for Melbourne, which will be released in November.

    Asked whether she could remain in cabinet if the road tunnel went ahead, Ms Pike replied: "I think it's too premature to talk about the specific projects that will be there as part of the Government's comprehensive transport plan."

    Local Government Minister and Richmond MP Dick Wynne, whose electorate includes Carlton and Clifton Hill, said in his submission that the road tunnel would cause "profound economic, environmental and social disruption".

    He supported a road tunnel from the western suburbs to CityLink, but said it was too early to say if a second stage was needed from CityLink to the Eastern Freeway. That stage should only be considered once Sir Rod's other road and rail proposals were complete.

    The road tunnel has been backed by three federal ministers - Julia Gillard, Nicola Roxon and Brendan O'Connor - as well as influential MP Bill Shorten. Strong support for it has also come from unions, toll road companies and some western suburbs councils.

    Read the original article at

    For the record, the Federal Member for Melbourne, Lindsay Tanner, opposes the tunnel, and would prefer money goes to public transport. You may want email him as well.

    This is not a federal government issue, but the state government has said that they will be calling upon the federal government for funds, and seeing how Lindsay Tanner is the Minister for Finance, it's worth a quick chat.

    North Melbourne joins tunnel fight to save park

    You read it here FIRST! Carna Roos! (And I don't even barrack for them, but I do support them, on this).

    NORTH Melbourne Football Club has weighed into the transport debate, standing up for a local park that would be lost if an 18km road tunnel was built under Melbourne.

    In its submission in response to transport expert Sir Rod Eddington's report, the Kangaroos raised concerns about a lack of facilities for local junior sports if Kensington's JJ Holland Park was s wallowed up by the tunnel's construction.

    Chief executive officer Eugene Arocca told the Herald Sun yesterday the club's future was inherently tied to its links with local sporting groups that use JJ Holland Park.

    "We think this club for too long has neglected its heartland and we want to make a fist of it," he said.

    "And Holland Park, historically and traditionally, is very critical to this area."

    Mr Arocca said the club was lobbying the AFL to hold its annual community camp at the park, just 1km from its home ground, to boost its profile.

    "That's how far behind we believe we've been in dealing with our under-resourced area," he said.

    "To give an example of how seriously we consider our links to this local community so important to our survival, we've suggested probably for the very first time, an AFL club wanting to do a community camp 1km from its home base, rather than the usual 400km.

    "Whether the AFL accepts that is another issue because the whole idea is to grow the brand and get the football club on the road, but we say that this club has not had that contact locally."

    He said Melbourne City Council had failed to reassure locals that the Kensington Flemington Junior Sports Club could be relocated if the park was used as a starting point for the tunnel.

    Member for Melbourne Bronwyn Pike said in her submission that she would fight for the rights of her constituents if the Government gave the green light to the $9 billion road tunnel.

    But the Minister for Education yesterday refused to say whether or not she supported construction of the tunnel, despite fierce opposition in her electorate.

    Premier John Brumby refused to comment on Ms Pike's submission, but said he would canvass the views of the caucus in coming weeks. "There'll be a number of individual meetings with caucus members," he said.

    He said the transport committee was currently meeting twice weekly to set a clear direction in response to the report and the state's transport woes.

    Four federal Labor MPs -- Deputy PM Julia Gillard, Member for Maribyrnong Bill Shorten, Health Minister Nicola Roxon and Employment Participation Minister Brendan O'Connor, all representing the western suburbs -- have backed the report's recommendations.

    But in an embarrassment for Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky, her former senior adviser has called for underpasses or overpasses to be built at all Melbourne's level crossings. Raoul Wainwright, until recently Ms Kosky's chief adviser on level crossing issues, made a submission as secretary of the ALP's Braybrook branch.

    It said all three levels of government should develop a program to remove the city's level crossings.

    - Geraldine Mitchell, Ashley Gardiner and Nick Higginbottom

    Read the original article here -,,24036994-2862,00.html

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    Transport giants back $9.5b tunnel

    Is it just me, or is everyone else noticing that the papers (Herald Sun, Leader Group) that are produced by NewsCorp (who has Sir Rod Eddington as a board member), seem to run a lot of these...

    VICTORIA'S biggest transport companies have backed construction of a $9.5 billion road tunnel through the city's inner north.

    The Herald Sun has seen submissions on the proposal by international transport expert Sir Rod Eddington to build Melbourne's biggest infrastructure project.

    Toll road operator ConnectEast, trucking giant Linfox, the RACV and the Transport Workers Union are adamant new roads must be built to cope with the state's population spurt.

    ConnectEast, operator of Melbourne's newest toll road EastLink, says it wants to build the tunnel and claims it can be done at no cost to the Government.

    But it would come at a cost to motorists - more tolls.

    The company says the EastLink model is an ideal example of how major infrastructure upgrades could be delivered within budget and with minimal disruption to parklands and little impact on the environment.

    "Indeed, the EastLink project has delivered considerable enhancements to public facilities along the length of the EastLink corridor," the ConnectEast Group said.

    It calls on Victorians to back Sir Rod's recommendations.

    "The community must be careful not to focus solely on the risk and threats posed by developments," it said.

    "It must also take account of the opportunities they can provide and the positive benefits they bring."

    The sentiments were backed by Linfox, the state's biggest trucking firm.

    Linfox executive chairman Peter Fox said it was vital the tunnel and new roads in the inner west, as recommended by Sir Rod, were built to ease congestion and reduce costs to consumers.

    "Over recent years, Linfox has become increasingly concerned by growing congestion issues in and around Melbourne's road network," Mr Fox said.

    "Linfox handles more than 80 per cent of Australia's fast-moving consumer goods at one point or another through the supply-chain cycle.

    "To the extent that many of these items are purchased off supermarket shelves, most Victorians inadvertently feel the effect of traffic congestion by consequently paying for this lost productivity through higher consumer prices."

    Transport Workers Union state secretary Bill Noonan said construction of a road tunnel was an "absolute must".

    But Mr Noonan said the union also supported construction of an elevated road over the Maribyrnong River to provide an alternative freight route to the congested Francis St in Yarraville.

    "Each and every major city in the world has a major ring road and we've got a huge city here with a huge transport task," he said....

    Read the rest of the article (and don't forget the comments section at the base of it) here -,21985,24032222-2862,00.html

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008


    Seeing how anyone can edit the content of a wikipedia entry (yes, even YOU), it will be interesting to see where this heads...

    Transport group urges caution on rail tunnel

    The Public Transport Users' Association (PTUA) says the Victorian Government should be making the most of existing public transport infrastructure, before investing in a new rail tunnel.

    Sir Rod Eddington's report on an east-west transport solution proposed a $7-billion rail tunnel from Footscray to Caulfield.

    The Government is considering a public-private partnership as one of the funding options, if the tunnel is approved.

    Daniel Bowen, from the PTUA says a new, privatised tunnel would drive up public transport fares.

    "We would like to see better use of existing rail infrastructure we have at first before we go and spend [up to] $9-billion on a new rail tunnel," he said.

    "So it is a very expensive project and I think the government needs to be very wary before they go ahead and approve it."

    Read the original article here -


    From's Tips and Rumours section
    As submissions for the Eddington Inquiry into Melbourne's East West Transport close, investment banking firms are backing away from interest in a long road tunnel. With petrol prices continuing to rise and an Emissions Trading Scheme almost certain to include transport the numbers stopped stacking up -- especially now that federal funds are more likely to support the public transport option. Hence the backers of the tunnel including the RACV (in a major attempt to save face) are spinning their support for the rail tunnel as the first priority.
    I'm wondering if there will now be more support, seeing how petrol is being excluded from the Emissions Trading Scheme

    @leisure's Submission

    There's some great stats in this one. Read it here (pdf 860kb)

    Rail tunnel vision praised, road link less popular

    Over 1,500 submissions received. Well done everybody!

    A $7 BILLION plan to tunnel from Footscray to Caulfield to build a new "metro style" underground rail line has won overwhelming endorsement from councils, transport groups and social welfare bodies.

    But support for a proposed $9 billion road tunnel stretching from Footscray to Clifton Hill has received a mixed response in submissions to the Government's review of Sir Rod Eddington's $20 billion transport plan for Melbourne.

    CityLink operator Transurban said the road tunnel should be built as a tollway - but even then it could only be built with additional Government funding.

    And new tolls should be placed on existing freeways, Transurban said, as a way of managing congestion. The Government should also consider introducing "hot" lanes - tolled lanes on existing roads - on the Eastern Freeway and the Metropolitan Ring Road. And the Government should consider extending the contracts for both Transurban and ConnectEast to toll CityLink and East Link, Transurban said, as a way of raising money to build new road and public transport projects.

    The Government received more than 1500 submissions to the Eddington report - many from local residents who are furious at the proposed road tunnel, and from residents concerned their houses might be compulsorily acquired as a result.

    The Government was expecting to receive fewer than 500 submissions to Sir Rod's report, and has been overwhelmed by the response. Sir Rod told The Age yesterday he stood behind all his proposals, and did not believe concerns about climate change had diminished the argument for building the $9 billion road tunnel.

    "There is a nonsense that says trains are good, cars are bad - none of that work has any supporting data on carbon footprint," he said. A lightly loaded train had a significant carbon footprint, he said.

    Many of the submissions demanded the Government map out a long-term transport vision for Melbourne.

    Train operator Connex, in its submission, backed the Footscray-to-Caulfield rail tunnel, and Sir Rod's $1.5 billion Werribee-to-Deer Park rail line.

    "In our view, the level of congestion on the current metropolitan train system is unsatisfactory," Connex's submission said. New rail connections would "more than double the capacity" of lines serving 80% of Melbourne's growth areas, Connex argued.

    Federal member Kelvin Thomson and state MP Carlo Carli made a joint submission, calling for the rail tunnel to be built, but not the road tunnel.

    The Metropolitan Transport Forum, a coalition of 20 Melbourne councils, slammed the Eddington road tunnel proposal, saying it had a benefit-cost ratio of "considerably less than one … meaning it should not proceed".

    And the Victorian Council of Social Service backed the rail tunnel proposal, but opposed "any increase in public transport tickets" to fund the project.

    The Property Council supported both the road and rail tunnels, and also said the Government must look at linking the Metropolitan Ring Road to EastLink and the Eastern Freeway.

    Premier John Brumby said the Government had reached no decision yet on any of Sir Rod's recommendations, and that it would respond with a wider transport plan for Melbourne by the end of the year.

    Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said he supported the east-west road tunnel proposal, but added it was appalling that Melbourne had no overall transport strategy, despite Labor having been in power since 1999.

    Read the original article here -

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    And now everyone... breathe!

    At least for a little while, we can relax (marginally).

    THANKYOU EVERYONE who sent in a submission.

    We know the numbers will be quite large, as there are a number of community and sporting groups who, alone, have submitted over 100 each. We can only hope that they get the message.

    But can we 'only hope'? I think not. Did you send your submission to any of the key politicians as well? If not, there is a list of the key emails here, so you might want to send it along to them as well.

    According to this article in The Age
    Two years on Bracks is gone and the transport plan is in tatters. Brumby is so concerned that he is meeting twice weekly with the six-member transport sub-committee of cabinet. The committee includes Roads Minister Tim Pallas, Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky, Treasurer John Lenders, Planning Minister Justin Madden and Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan.

    So they're a good group to focus your attentions upon.

    Now that the (cough, cough) 'Public Consultation'* has ended, they can spend the next 5 months spinning as much as they want. Theirs is not an easy sell either, but there's a lot of people who reach for their carkeys without even contemplating alternatives.

    And their real spin hasn't even started yet...

    *Oh, and I think a few suggestions about how to conduct 'Public Consultation' could also be the subject of a few emails, but I might post about that a little later on. The offer to send in an email, and a single online forum advertised only one week out from the event, does not constitute public consultation.

    ACT NOW - It's your last chance

    If you haven't sent your email in yet, you've only got TODAY!

    Follow the instructions on the right-hand side of this page, before it's too late.

    New rail tunnel may be privatised

    A PROPOSED $7 billion rail tunnel from Footscray to Caulfield could be privatised under funding options being considered by the Brumby Government and being backed by Metlink, the body that promotes Melbourne's public transport operations.

    The Government has also refused to rule out fare increases to help pay for the tunnel.

    The tunnel was among the key proposals in Sir Rod Eddington's report earlier this year on east-west transport options for Melbourne.

    As the Government considers its response to the Eddington report, it has emerged that Metlink's submission to the inquiry included private finance options for rail projects.

    Metlink's chief executive, Bernie Carolan, said the Footscray-Caulfield rail tunnel would be an attractive private financing opportunity because it was a "stand-alone" line and not an add-on to an existing line.

    "This sort of rail tunnel proposition lends itself to it (private financing) more than most public transport initiatives simply because it is stand-alone," he told The Age.

    Rail lines in Sydney and Brisbane have already been built using private finance.

    Metlink, a strong advocate of the rail tunnel proposal, would prefer public funding for the project, but would support private finance to ensure it is built.

    The operation of Melbourne's train and tram system was privatised by the Kennett government in 1999, but the state has retained the ownership of the tracks and trains...

    Read the rest at

    Melbourne's trams are a hostile place

    This is a city that fines visitors who don't know how to buy tickets.

    APPARENTLY, it makes economic sense to bring back tram conductors to Melbourne's trams (The Age, 13/7). Excuse my bluntness, but der, Fred. And, ah, what about all the other factors that make something a good idea? Such as safety, functionality, enjoyment?

    An instinctual, helpful human presence as opposed to a robot is always going to make good economic sense. Problems of obesity, consumer debt and depression are rising at the same speed as our technological advancement, and it seems the same narrow view has created the problems with our city's tram system.

    Removing the conductors had a sinister effect on the cultural feel of Melbourne. Instead of conductors, we now have inspectors. What does this say? It seems that as a city, we would rather fine you for being wrong than help you to be right. If the machines don't work, or you can't read English, or you don't have enough coins — bad luck. Questions about where to go? Fend for yourself. Find a willing stranger (thankfully, there are a few), but we will not pay anyone to help you. Instead, we will spend that money on making you work harder.

    Seneca wrote that the safety of society depends on respect and reciprocal devotion. The conductors on our trams were a beautiful symbol of this respect. Like flicking through a city's paper or witnessing exchanges in a busy street, sitting on a tram in conductor days left you in no doubt you were in Melbourne. Whether they were making comments on something political, giving a shout to shopkeepers on their daily rounds or offering an arm up the step to old Marg with her gammy leg, conductors were the eyes and ears of our city. And keeping a city safe and cheery is always going to make good economic sense.

    The travels of my everyday life in Melbourne's inner-city depend on trams. To go to the city, I catch the 86 down Smith Street; to see my sister, the 1 or the 15 down Lygon; a coffee at Mario's is the 112.

    I've seen new arrivals in our state — including other Australians — beg strangers for the right change and I've seen recent immigrants ask for a translation of how the hell to use the ticket machine and seen them look with fear and confusion at the arrival of inspectors flashing badges to "arrest" someone for not knowing. It all makes me wonder about the conversation at which it was decided to replace a walking, talking, friendly face with a machine.

    Can a machine give directions? Help you up the stairs if you have lots of bags, a pram, a disability? Can a machine welcome you to the city? Bring those travelling on the tram into a feeling of camaraderie over a situation that just occurred on the corner of Collins and Spring with a street performer on stilts?

    Aside from these romantic examples, can a machine stop the drunk guys sitting next to me from swearing loudly and throwing a football down the tram aisle or, worse, cans of Coke at each other, splashing me in the process?

    I no longer get dressed up if I know I'm going to catch a tram. I need back-up sneakers in case I need to make a last-minute dash from a weirdo.

    Conductors were like gentle stand-by guardians. But it's not just the romance of tram conductors that makes sense. From an economic viewpoint, the ability to travel safely and easily on trams is vital to those who want to live comfortably on lower incomes in our city.

    Think of parents catching trams with shopping and babies in tow. It requires a huge level of trust and the kindness of strangers just to manage the steps, purchase a ticket and find a seat when you have a baby, or small children and shopping bags to control. And so often they have to clear the seat of rubbish first, too.

    Compared with other cities in Australia, the variety and availability of amenities in Melbourne is plentiful: our coffee is fantastic, our food is cheap, there is a rich and thriving arts scene catering for all interests (button art, anyone?), and educational facilities and free libraries dot the city. But Melbourne's trams have always been the binding cord, the reason artists I know choose to live without a car in Zone 1.

    Making the trams friendlier, easier, and yes, obviously, saving money in the process by hiring conductors instead of inspectors, will perhaps revive the city. And I'll be able to go into town in my finest again, without my back-up sneakers.

    Read the original article here -